Sunday, March 21, 2021

Amy Howard Wilson

Amy Howard at AWA III in 1997

I can't remember exactly where the news came from, the news that another Star Blazers voice actor had been located. But it spread quickly across late 1990s anime fandom; the voice actress for Nova from Star Blazers was out there, her name was Amy Howard, and we should totally invite her to our newly-thriving anime conventions. And that's just what we did. 

AWA 1997 program book bio

Amy first arrived at Anime Weekend Atlanta in 1997, and as a convention administrator and a Star Blazers fan, I was curious and a little concerned about how someone from outside the fandom would react to our anime-nerd world. As it turned out I shouldn't have worried; Amy was absolutely delighted to find herself immersed in friendly and enthusiastic crowds of cosplayers, gamers, artists, and nerds. She seemed thrilled to talk to former kids who'd raced home from school to listen to her voice on Star Blazers. And let there be no mistake. To sit down and talk with a woman who spoke with a voice I and so many other Star Blazers fans had heard over and over again, well, it was downright supernatural.

Amy (3rd from left) and Space Battleship Yamato cosplayers

Amy loved anime conventions; I never saw her at one without a smile on her face. She was always happy to share stories of Star Blazers, of acting, of New York City in the decadent late 1970s. She was quickly adopted by anime fans across the country, and when other Star Blazers voice talent was located she acted as their ambassador to our anime-con culture.

Amy, Peter Fernandez, Corinne Orr, and AWA admin Lloyd Carter

The first thing we Atlantans did was to sit her down and interview her. I'm sure hundreds of other Star Blazers fans did the same thing. Today's fans, raised in the day of IMDB and the panopticon of promotional and social media, might not understand how for years Star Blazers voice actors were mysteries. Their work went uncredited in the 1979 series, so we had to track them down, and Amy became a key part of that process. Within a few years we found out who Ken Meseroll and Eddie Allen and Tom Tweedy were (they were, of course, Derek Wildstar, Leader Desslok, and Mark Venture), and Amy acted as their ambassador to our anime-con culture.

Amy and Dave III and another Dave in 2002

We were all pleasantly surprised when Amy wound up hitting it off with one of our own. David Wilson III was one of Atlanta's original anime-club crew and was then running AWA's consuite. He was grumbling about being so busy in the consuite that he'd been unable to see any of the guests, including Amy. Hearing of his plight, our tech director Gordon fetched Amy and brought her up to meet Dave. Two years later, there we were, at their wedding.

Amy and Dave III at AWA 2008

The last time I saw Dave & Amy was at Otakon in Baltimore; we caught up over Inner Harbor seafood and promised to see each other again soon. And now that's never going to happen. We all recently learned Amy passed away at the end of February. I always thought there would be one more convention for us to share a box of wine at, one more opening ceremony introduction, one more memory to make, and I'm stunned that she's gone.

The past year has been particularly tough. We've said goodbye to a lot of things and a lot of people. We've had to endure loss without the support of having our friends and family close. But losing Amy seems particularly cruel right now, when it seemed like we were finally getting the end of the pandemic in sight, just when we were starting to look forward to coming together again. And we will come together again, believe me. It's just that when we do, there are going to be some empty spaces at the table and a little less laughter all around. 

We'll miss you, Amy.